So your friend has had a baby. Are you thinking any of the following?
“She never answers the phone and takes three days to reply to my texts”
“All she talks about is the baby”
“She’s replaced me for her new mummy friends”
Well, let me speak up for all the new mums who are too polite and frankly don’t have the time to defend themselves.
Having a baby changes absolutely everything. I was convinced things only really changed if you let them – and there were so many things that I certainly wouldn’t let change. I now mock the old me who must have lived in a fantasyland.
This BB (before baby) me planned to keep up an active social life; I would go out on Fridays while my husband stayed in and we’d swap on Saturdays. Why wouldn’t that work?
I thought we could keep up our schedule of visiting our baby-free couple friends around the country or hosting them. I knew that the itinerary for the weekend visits would obviously change but couldn’t see why we couldn’t sustain these visits. After all, babies sleep in cars and what else are travel cots for? Right?
I was also incredibly naïve as to think I may have time to fill during maternity leave. A year was a long time and I like always having something to do; this would be the ideal opportunity to decorate the house, sign up to a course and do those little tasks like I never got around to doing such as putting my thousand photographs into albums. I’d definitely be able to do that.
So, how has it all worked out? I haven’t achieved anything during my maternity leave which hasn’t been caring for the immediate needs of my baby; my landing is half painted and my drawer is still stuffed with photographs. I think I managed to go out twice in the first six months. We visited our friends once but what used to be a three hour drive turned into seven hours of torment – screaming, multiple stops, exploding nappies and sick. The thought of a long journey now still genuinely fills me with fear.
However, what perhaps I don’t realise is that everyone I’ve left behind in my BB fantasyland must still have the same assumptions I did and now think I’ve either gone nuts or become a very bad friend.
The reality is that there is no time in my life anymore. If you are baby free, you can’t fully understand. But trust me. New mums are not trying to edge their old friends out of their baby bliss-filled lives. We are chronically time (and sleep) deprived.
It’s not necessarily that being a mum is difficult – although it is at times – it’s the intensity of the job. Some days we can’t shower or even eat anything until tea time. We’re not deliberately ignoring your missed call or text, it’s just further down the list of priorities than trying to keep our babies and ourselves alive because we don’t have a clue what we’re doing and while it sounds dramatic, at times it really does feel like all we’re trying to do is survive!
I miss my old friends; really miss them. Of course we’re still friends but I don’t get to see them as much as I used to. And it’s really sad. So this is my plea to all baby-free friends:
We’re sorry we can’t be as good a friend as we used to be. Our lives have changed beyond recognition; we’re struggling to learn how to look after a little tiny person and we are so so so tired. But please understand that you are still wanted and needed perhaps more now than ever. Do you know how many mums I meet who feel lonely and are desperate for the support of a friend? Please keep on calling us. Please don’t stop inviting us out. Please come and visit us. Just bring cake.